10 things you need to know today: April 11, 2017

Gorsuch is sworn in as Supreme Court Justice, three die in murder-suicide at California school, and more

Neil Gorsuch is sworn in as Supreme Court Justice
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

1. Gorsuch sworn in as Supreme Court Justice

Neil Gorsuch, vowing to be a "faithful servant of the Constitution," was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice on Monday to fill the seat left vacant when his fellow conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia, died in February last year. "To the Scalia family, I won't ever forget that the seat I inherit today is that of a very, very great man," Gorsuch said in a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom Gorsuch once served as a law clerk, administered the oath of office. The moment marked a victory for President Trump after a historic confirmation battle with Democrats and restored the court's conservative majority, after Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama from filling the vacancy and kept the court evenly split between liberals and conservatives for more than a year.

The Associated Press

2. 8-year-old boy, two adults die in apparent murder-suicide at California school

Two adults and an 8-year-old boy were killed and a 9-year-old boy was injured Monday in an apparent murder-suicide at a San Bernardino, California, elementary school. Police said a gunman, identified as 53-year-old Cedric Anderson, fatally shot a female teacher, identified as Karen Elaine Smith, his estranged wife, before turning the gun on himself. Investigators said they did not believe the children were targeted, but were standing behind the teacher when the gunman fired. The injured 9-year-old boy was hospitalized in critical condition. Police said the man checked in at the office of the school, North Park Elementary, before going to the teacher's special-ed classroom.

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Los Angeles Times Reuters

3. Alabama governor resigns in scandal plea deal

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) resigned Monday under fire over a sex scandal that dragged down his popularity. Special prosecutor Ellen Brooks said Bentley was stepping down under a plea agreement on misdemeanor charges of failing to file a major contribution report and knowingly making personal use of campaign donations. Bentley acknowledged a year ago that he made sexual remarks to a senior political adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, but he denied they had a physical relationship. His then-wife, Dianne Bentley, intercepted text messages her husband, a staunch family-values conservatives, sent Mason, and divorced him in 2015 after 50 years of marriage. Bentley came under increasing pressure to resign after the release of a report saying he used "an atmosphere of intimidation" to get state employees to help cover up his relationship with Mason. Bentley apologized for failing to "live up to the high expectations" of his office.

The New York Times The Associated Press

4. Dylann Roof gets nine life sentences on state murder charges

Dylann Roof pleaded guilty to murdering nine black churchgoers at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015. Roof, a self-described white supremacist, had already been sentenced to death on federal hate-crime charges. After his plea on the state murder charges, a judge sentenced him to nine consecutive lifetime prison terms plus 90 years. Prosecutors said the extra time would serve as an insurance policy to keep him locked up if there is ever a change in his federal conviction and death sentence. Nadine Collier, daughter of slain parishioner Ethel Lance, told Roof, now 23, that she forgave him, a gesture she said helped show that he had failed in his effort to spark a race war. "He came here to start a battle, but I win the war," she said.

Post and Courier

5. Russia knew of Syria chemical attack in advance, official says

Russia appears to have had advance notice of last week's chemical weapons attack in Syria, which killed more than 80 people, a senior U.S. official said Monday. The official said Russia was flying a drone over a hospital where victims rushed for treatment, and the drone's presence could not have been a coincidence, the official said. A Russian-made fighter jet later bombed the hospital in what Washington believes was part of an effort to cover up the chemical attack. The White House has blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the chemical attack, which prompted President Trump to order a retaliatory missile strike on a Syrian airfield last Thursday. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is meeting with top diplomats from the Group of Seven industrialized economies and several predominantly Muslim nations to discuss a common strategy to help end Syria's civil war.

The Associated Press

6. Sweden terrorist attack suspect has confessed, lawyer says

The Stockholm truck attack suspect, 39-year-old Uzbekistan-born Rakhmat Akilov, has admitted that he carried out the "terrorist crime," his lawyer said at a Tuesday hearing in the Swedish capital. Akilov did not speak in the hearing. He has not yet been formally charged, but will remain in custody until his trial. Four people died in the attack when the truck's driver plowed into people on a crowded shopping street on Friday, then crashed into a department store.


7. North Korean state media warns of nuclear strike against U.S. if provoked

North Korean state media warned Tuesday that the isolated communist nation might launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. over any indication of a preemptive attack by a U.S. Navy strike heading toward nearby waters in the western Pacific. "Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the U.S. mainland," North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said. South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn warned that Pyongyang might respond to rising tensions over its nuclear weapons and missile programs with "greater provocations," such as another nuclear test.


8. Washington Post reporter wins Pulitzer for Trump charity coverage

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on Monday in recognition of his digging into President Trump's charitable giving. Fahrenthold's Pulitzer-winning package of stories also included his article breaking the news of the previously unaired 2005 Access Hollywood footage in which Trump boasted about kissing and groping women without their permission. The other winners included The New York Times, which won three journalism Pulitzers, and the New York Daily News and ProPublica, which shared a public service award for their coverage of the New York Police Department's abuse of a law to oust people from homes and businesses due to alleged lawbreaking.

The Washington Post The New York Times

9. Judge rules for second time that Texas voter ID law targets minorities

A Federal judge in Texas ruled Monday that Republican lawmakers designed the state's strict voter ID law to discriminate against Democratic-leaning minority voters. It was the second time U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos had ruled against the law. Two years ago, she said the voter ID law was similar to a "poll tax" intended to suppress the minority vote. An appeals court had asked Gonzalez Ramos to take another look at her original ruling, and she said nothing had changed. Under the law, voters have to show one of seven forms of identification while at the polls. Concealed handgun licenses are on the approved ID list, while college student IDs are not. The state was forced to weaken the law for last year's elections.

The Associated Press

10. Critics slam United Airlines after passenger dragged off plane

United Airlines faced an angry backlash on Monday after video surfaced showing security officers dragging a passenger off an overbooked flight waiting to take off from Chicago's O'Hare Airport. United was making room on the plane for four employees of a partner airline, and officers pulled the screaming man out of a window seat, over an armrest, and down the aisle as other passengers protested. On the video, some are heard saying, "This is wrong" and "Busted his lip." A United spokesman said airline employees had no choice, and had to call authorities to remove the passenger when he refused to get off the plane on his own. The Chicago Department of Aviation put one of the security officers on leave pending an investigation, saying the incident "was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure." United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the "upsetting event" but said the passenger had been "disruptive and belligerent."

The Associated Press BBC News

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.